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Singapore to get first female president, Halimah Yacob, without vote

Voters in Singapore responded with anger after electoral officials effectively decided on the future head of state. With all other candidates eliminated, Halimah Yacob will become the first female president.

Halimah Yacob surrounded by press after getting approved by the Elections Department (Reuters/E. Su)

Yacob (center) pledged to do her best to 'serve the people of Singapore'

Singapore authorities are expected to cancel the presidential vote and name Yacob president-elect as soon as the deadline for nominations expires on Wednesday.

"Whether there is an election or not, my passion and commitment to serve the people of Singapore remain the same," Yacob told reporters earlier this week.

A president plays a largely ceremonial role in the rich island state. Yacob is expected to take her oath of office on Thursday, serving as the first female president of Singapore for the next six years, reported the Singapore-based Straits Times.

Authorities originally scheduled a presidential vote for September 23, with five people attempting to run. However, the candidates needed to comply with new rules about providing minorities with representation in the Chinese-majority Singapore. The officials in the city-state declared that only members of the Malay ethnic group would be allowed to run in 2017. Two of the contenders were quickly disqualified based on this criterion.

Read more: Singapore renames exhibition on Japanese occupation after outcry

Pushing meritocracy aside?

Under Singapore's constitution, a prospective president must also posses experience by either serving in public office, leading a government-linked organization, or a company worth at least $370 million (417 million euro) in shareholder equity.

Yacob, a former speaker of the parliament, was the only one to pass muster.

The decision to make her the only candidate prompted criticism from the public, especially on social media. While Singapore remains tightly controlled by the government, its citizens have grown increasingly vocal with their criticism of the ruling elite in recent years.

"All Singaporeans are unhappy that meritocracy and electoral fairness, core Singaporean values, have been eroded to fulfil perceived political goals," writer and political commentator Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh told the AFP news agency.

dj/jm (AFP, dpa, AP)

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